After a few weeks where our music critic Andrew Tobias has pronounced his love for the music of his youth he now turns his focus on another area, part in thanks to the recent release of the band Arkells new single Knocking at the Door.
For some strange reason I have always had a strange adoration for music from Canada. It does not make a whole lot of sense, for the music produced in the great white north is not that dissimilar to that written in the southern part of the Americas. From the first meeting with Bryan Admas, to the anger in Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill, the soft lilting tones of Sarah MacLachlan and the qurkiness of Barenaked Ladies it seems as if Canada has been close to my heart for a long time.
So when I discovered Arkells a year ago when they were closely connected to Frank Turner, well then it was as if fate had intervened. I must say that I am a big fun of their music and lyrics that tread that fine line between sarcasm and seriousness, wrapped in a simplistic package. Their new single Knocking on the Door is a tune that includes all the pieces that have made their previous releases so great; a catchy melody, quick witted lyrics and a sharp message. It is reminiscent of a southern preachers sermon to a congregation, complete with a climatic baptist choir at the end. It gets the listener going and their hearts racing.
So get off the couch and answer the knock at the door, because it’s the Arkells waiting for you to open and discover them.
In this week’s fresh tracks segment Andrew Tobias, music reviewer at large, highlights American pop trio Jukebox the Ghost’s new single and ponders how age makes us gravitate towards certain artists.
The pursuit of new music has always been very important to me although it has changed over the year. Like a sex addict I found, in my younger years, that I was increasingly looking for stranger and more disjointed music to explore. As if a lone singer songwriter with a guitar just didn’t cut it anymore. Now on the other hand when I am closing in on my forties I find that I look for songs that have a familiar air instead. Jukebox the Ghost, a power pop trio from Washington D.C., is such a band. They play a style of music that is a wonderful blend of tunes hinting on songs you have heard before and a lyrical ingenuity about everyday issues. It wakes a comfort and familiarity in ones bosom in a way that is reminiscent of Fountains of Wayne, OKGO and Scouting for Girls. It is easily digestible, fun and the songs stick in ones head.
They have returned, after a few years of absence, with the song Stay the Night. It continues where there last album ended with a similar poppy feel and quirky lyrics. The difference her is that they are channeling Queen by using the choir vocals and the distinct use of piano. It is also an anthem to platonic love, or the want to spend the night with that special someone, but apparently not being able to.
In short Jukebox the Ghost’s new single is well worth a listen for anyone interested in something dance-able and quirky.
After a brief hiatus Andrew Tobias returns with Fresh Tracks, this time with a declaration of love fueled by the release of his new album Whole New World.
To me Francis Dunnery has always been one of the music industries best kept secrets. No matter how much I have enjoyed his songs it has never bothered me that I was the only one among my friends. It has always been like a brotherhood with a secret handshake, a knowing wink or nod to people behind the record store counter pr someone wearing an It Bites T-shirt one happens to see on the street.
I was first introduced to Dunnery as a teenager, when I heard American Life in the Summertime, and the album Fearless became the soundtrack to the summer of ’96 for me. Since then he wandered in and out of my life and I was even introduced to his band It Bites. At times it can be trying to be a Dunnery fan. He likes to experiment and some of his production has been a highly dubious adventure in various soundscapes, but I guess that is part of his charm. This does lead to the fact that whenever a new album is released one enters into it with a sense of trepidation.
Whole New World Remix does evoke a variety of feelings and questions. Is it a remix album where songs from Dunnery’s catalog is enhanced with ambient sounds, very much in the style of his Made in Space or a re-imagining of the same like his work with The New Progressives. To my joy it was more of the latter than the former. The remix in this case are Dunnery’s interpretations of It Bites tunes as well as some of the more classic progressive songs of the seventies and eighties. Songs like The Faces’ Glad and Sorry or Genesis’ Back in New York City.
This is definitely Dunnery at his best. Most of the songs are flavored with a goodly dose of Steely Dan and other fusion jazz acts. It is a more mature sound, maybe aimed at a more mature audience with a taste for quality and excitement in composition. IT may not be an introduction to his musical history, but it is an introduction to his world, his amazing voice and wonderful ability. This is Francis Dunnery at his absolute best.
The Guild’s music reporter Andrew Tobias has always tried to keep his finger on what is fresh on the music scene. The goal is to highlight a new release from an artist every week. Here is the first one:
It seems to me like John Darnielle and his band always have had a theme in their songs or their albums, even though they never really were that type of act. It also seems to me that they are headed in that very direction. Their previous album, Beat the Champ, had a clear thematic red thread in wrestling and wrestlers and the forthcoming album will treat the phenomenon of Gothic Music. I guess both cases can be argued; Darnielle’s clearly personal songs have always had an overhanging theme of alienation and being an outsider and that in itself might be seen as a concept, on the other hand one might claim that any artist’s catalog is one long concept and that what The Mountain Goats are doing now is structuring it through in actual album form.
Bassist Peter Hughes stated on the band’s homepage that this theme is dearer to his heart, as is true for the rest of the group and may very well be true for most people who grew up in the 80s. The Gothic music scene, I would venture to say, has been more important and influential than we might realize. So far only Andrew Eldritch is Moving Back to Leeds has been released as a single and it sets the bar high for the coming Goth album. Eldritch, as the founder and remaining member of The Sisters of Mercy one could well argue that he is one of the more important characters of the scene. With the very recognizable sound that is the Goats the tune discusses all the feelings of middle age people who return to their old haunts after success and the adoration of all. It becomes deeply thought provoking and at times sad, with some hope at the end.
The song truly brings a longing for what The Mountain Goats will bring to the new album.